Young Lawyer, First Create the Dots

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By Ifeanyi Clement Nweke

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.” Steve Jobs

I first heard the above statement a few months after my call to the bar. At that point in my life I was serving at a corporate law firm but still very much confused about what my next step in life will be. I knew I once wanted to be a writer, journalist and traveler but all that seemed like a pipe childhood dream at that point. I was now a “lawyer” as friends and family will always remind me and that alone supersedes all other art inclined ventures.

After hearing Steve Jobs speech, I gave it a lot of thinking. I seriously prayed about it as well, because I was terrified. At long last, I decided to resign from the reasonably paying law firm that retained me at the time. Lagos didn’t feel like the ideal place to pursue my kind of dream. While my colleagues were rushing into Lagos as the legal promised land, I on the other was saying goodbye to it and relocating to Abuja which was/is termed a dry hard land for legal practice.

First thing I did when I came in, was to register with the International Institute of Journalism affiliated to the University of Maiduguri. At that point, going in for a totally different course other than law didn’t make sense to anyone including me. I however had to trust my guts.  I also couldn’t burden my parents with tuition fees. Since I had come too far to turn back, I used most of my Youth Service savings to pay for my tuition.

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Abuja turned out a dry land as predicted, in the first few months of my arrival. The highbrow firms were not responding, while the average firms were offering little or nothing. After working for 20k for 3 months and getting nothing, I knew that being a patient dog wasn’t working. So I went into my then employer’s office one morning asking to be given anything he could spare. Rather than come out with anything, I came out with not just nothing but a suspension from work. I didn’t go back. It didn’t get any better, because I fell into the hands of job scammers as I looked for a salaried job. I soon realized that jobs where I’ll not earn, but learn might pretty much be my best bet.

Throughout these trying times, I still stuck to my Journalism and creative writing. In the mornings , I suited up and went about looking for a job. In the evenings I went for my journalism classes and at night I started an online creative writing class with Eketi Ette. I can tell you that hectic was an understatement to describe this time.

I was always asked why I invested so much time in journalism and writing. I’ve never had an answer and still have no answer. I always played Steve Jobs speech, trusting and hoping that someday the dots will make sense. It never did. At least not for a long time. Even after coming out as the best graduating student in my set in journalism and after improving my skills in creative writing, it still didn’t make sense. I knew I loved writing and enjoyed asking questions when given the opportunity, but I didn’t see myself as an out and out journalist. And this is because I still love the opportunity that law brings.

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Asking questions on the other hand has always been an annoying trait anyone close to me have had to live with. The challenge then lay in connecting these three dots writing, law, and my curious mind.

Be that as it may, I just kept writing and posting because I love writing. After several years writing and a couple of direct messages with writing opportunities trickling in on Social media, especially Facebook, I finally got one message that mirrored my dreams and visions. This message came from Ifeoma Peters, founder of DNL Legal & Styles. And that is how it became that I met Ifeoma Peters. I was so happy to finally connect to someone with a similar vision. After weeks of hesitation, I am glad to be a Legal Journalist at DNL Legal and Styles.

Is it just me or are the dots beginning to align? I can’t say that they have aligned perfectly but they are sure beginning to align.

Some days ago I was watching a familiar looking music journalist on Pulse TV. He sounded so smart and analytical in his analysis of Nigerian music industry. I couldn’t resist my curiosity and had to turn to Google to learn more about him. Google however only kept showing his current life with celebrities and the likes without more. After a tedious search, I eventually found what I was looking for on LinkedIn. We were both in the same Law School and to my pleasant surprise, in the same set. He always seemed out of place then as I reflected back on our Law School days. I didn’t realize how smart and analytical this young man was until I saw him dissecting the Nigerian music industry and it’s diverse artists.

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If there is anything you’ll take away from this, take this. As a young lawyer, it doesn’t have to all make sense. The dots need not all align at once, but it’s important you start creating the dots.You need not follow the straightjacket path made by older lawyers. Carve out your own path, within or outside of law.  Becoming a lawyer doesn’t necessarily have to be the end of your story. It can be the springboard to spring you to your full potential.

Because the truth is, you’ll never realize who you truly are until you begin to create the dots. Then trust that at some point, you’ll look back and it will all make sense.

Ifeanyi is an avid reader and writer, who possesses an innate love for creative writing and a degree in Journalism. contact  clembertpartners@gmail.com, 08121101333.

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